When to sit in the back of the plane

Immigration queues are often understaffed, making being among the first to get off the plane a valuable perk, which can save hours of waiting.

And frankly, people don’t give enough thought to where they sit on the plane. Sure, sometimes the seats you really want require a fee or upgrade, but there are plenty of benefits to be had, just by selecting the right standard seat.

In a rush to get out of the airport? The farther forward (and generally to the left) of the aircraft, the better. Want more legroom? Find where the exit rows or partitions are on the specific plan.

But sometimes, if you’re traveling economy class, the back row is actually the best. Yes, I said it.

It’s a niche, it’s certainly not everywhere, but it’s true. This is when you might want to check the seating plan and hope that the last or second-to-last row of the plane is free. It all depends on where you are going.

Picture by Geewon Jung of Pixabay

Airports that board with stairs

Some airports, especially smaller airports in vacation destinations — think Greece or the Caribbean — board and deplane using steps. To help speed up the process, steps are attached to both the front door of the aircraft and the rear.

Worst seat in the house when this happens? Assuming there is a business class cabin in the front, the forward or middle area of ​​the economy. If an airplane has 30 rows, row 15 will be stuck in the middle and will likely be the very last person down the steps. Upon boarding, they will also have the longest walk down the aisle to their seat.

If I know I’m heading to a destination with forward and reverse gears and I’m flying economy class, I usually select the last or second-to-last row of the plane. Business class may always have the first opportunity to disembark, but I’m always among the first in economy class.

Sometimes the ground staff don’t even prioritize business class, so do what you want with it. I’ve had plenty of flights where both sets of treads attach at the same time, and I zip up first.

Which airports board forward and back?

The list is too long to write, and in some cases it just depends on where the plane is parking on landing. Sorry!

The best thing you can do is to Google typical protocols for the airport you are heading to. They will often appear in good travel destination guides or on airline forums like FlyerTalk.

If I’m going to Santorini, I could Google “Santorini steps for boarding” or “does XYZ airport use front and back stairs” and look at the images rather than the text results. They are often quite conclusive. A follow-up search is never a bad idea.

Keep in mind that even if an airport uses steps, such as Barbados, it does not still be in front and behind. The Maldives uses both sets of stairs for some arrivals, but not others.

And also consider that it makes sense to favor rear seating when driving to a disembarking destination using steps at both doors, rather than when leaving. If you’re flying back to say… New York, you’ll want to be as close to the front as possible for a quick exit.

The A380 has unique boarding and seat guidance

No modern aircraft has changed air travel as much as the Airbus A380. The two-story “super jumbo” introduced first-class suites, on-plane showers and on-board bars that are over the top.

It also introduced double-deck boarding. Some passengers board from the front of the lower deck, while for some airlines others board from the center of the upper deck. It’s a trip, that’s for sure!

As much as advice on where to sit, other than first class, would be helpful, there is no consistent advice. Some airlines offer business and first class on the entire upper deck. Others have ideal economy cabins aft of the upper deck and some even have different layouts in their own fleet.

“Occasional” beds in the back

One of the most viral GSTP articles of all time was about use their sense of travel to book a bed in economy class. It’s been regurgitated many times since, and times have changed, but with so many people looking at extra legroom or the front of the cabin, sometimes the rear has its privileges.

It’s never a bad game to check the seat cards 24 hours a day, when the seats open for the whole cabin and most passengers, but also to check again before arriving at the airport. Asking an airline staff member if there are any blank lines after check-in is complete is never a bad strategy. Low risk, high reward.

Flights are mostly full these days so I wouldn’t give up a better chance and getting on and off quickly, but there aren’t always exceptions!

No time to waste

When we land in paradise, who wants to wait in line for hours? Being among the first to disembark can make the difference in literal hours. If there are 200 passengers on your plane alone and everyone is taking 30 seconds (or more) to process, there is real time at stake.

It should take less than 5 minutes to understand the boarding and disembarking processes at any airport, and if you do, you can save time that could be put to much better use!